Social structure – What it is, definition and concept

The social structure is the set of interrelationships and social interactions that take place between the different elements of a given society.

The social structure implies admitting that society is made up of a series of non-static elements. In other words, these elements interact with each other, are changing and give shape to a society.

Therefore, we cannot consider that all these elements that make up a society are unconnected. On the contrary, it is a dynamic concept.

Elements of the social structure

The elements of the social structure are those on which the structure depends. That is, what makes up the social structure and determines its stability or that, on the contrary, there is a social change.

Thus, these are the following:

  • Individuals: They are the smallest unit. Individuals are the component of the most elementary social structure, everything else depends on them. Hence, the structure is a set of dynamic and changing interactions, that people are not automated robots. They have feelings and rationality, which gives them a very particular and different way of acting. Not only do individuals act differently from each other, but they themselves can change their minds, preferences, and patterns of action.
  • Social groups: These are also a basic component of any structure. From the existence of a common goal, and from the need to achieve it, the existence of social groups arises. Some of these groups are: friends, co-workers, sports clubs, political parties, etc. That is, social group is any group in which there are two or more individuals.
  • Social roles: It is the position and the tasks performed in each social group. There may be social groups in which the performance of many individuals is passive, to which they simply belong out of a certain obligation. On the contrary, there are others in which the involvement is high, such as a football match, a group of friends or a union. Nor is it the same to enjoy, or not, a high hierarchical position, it is not the same to be a boss than a worker.
  • The rules and customs: Each society has its own rules and customs. Western society dictates a lot from Eastern and Muslim. They have very little in common, some features shared by the recent phenomenon of globalization. Although these differences are not only found at the macro level, but also at smaller levels such as a country, region or locality.
  • Institutions: These are the ones that create and modify the previous element. The interaction of unions, companies, families and political parties gives rise to the norms that govern daily life. The form of government and the political regime depend on the nature of political institutions, a democracy does not operate in the same way as a totalitarian system. It does not have the same consequences for citizens, nor is the relationship between political actors the same.
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